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New rules for buying buildings in Liberty

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Here is a new ordinance passed Tuesday night by the Liberty City Council requiring existing structures to pass a building code inspection again whenever ownership changes hands before they can be occupied or have the lights turned on. A short and simple explanation of it can be found in this Thursday’s Vindicator. 

 

CHAPTER 3

BUILDING REGULATIONS

ARTICLE 3.13 CERTIFICATES OF OCCUPANCY AND COMPLIANCE

DIVISION I. RESIDENTIAL OCCUPANCY REQUIREMENTS

Sec. 3.13.001 Definitions.

As used in this division, the following terms shall have the respective meanings ascribed to them:

Apartment Complex. A building or buildings comprised of three or more consecutive rental units each.

Bedroom. A room used or intended to be used for sleeping purposes and not as a kitchen, bathroom, living room, closet, hallway, utility space, entryway, garage, patio, or breezeway.

Building Official. A properly identified building official for the City of Liberty, Texas, or his/her designee.

Certificate of Compliance. A certificate, other than an initial Certificate of Occupancy, issued by the city upon submission, review and approval of an executed Residential Occupancy Application, which lists any and all occupants of the property, as well as the owner(s) of the property.

Certificate of Occupancy. An initial certificate issued by the city upon submission, review and approval of an executed Residential Occupancy Application, which lists any and all occupants of the property, as well as the owner(s) of the property.

City. The City of Liberty, Texas.

Life, Health and Safety Inspection. An inspection completed by the building Official on all residential structures and residential rental units which must be completed and submitted to the city prior to connection of utility services to each respective residential structure and must be completed at change of occupancy or at change of ownership on all residential rental units.

Owner. The person claiming, or in whom is invested, the ownership, dominion, or title of real property, including but not limited to: holder of fee-simple title; holder of life-estate; holder of leasehold estate for an interim term of five (5) years or more; a buyer under contract for deed; a mortgagee, receiver, executor or trustee in control of real property; but not including the holder of a leasehold estate or a tenancy for initial term of less than five (5) years.

Person. An individual, corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership or association, two or more persons having a joint interest, or any other legal or community entity.

Premises. A lot, plot or parcel of land, including any structure thereon, and furthermore, including a dwelling unit, appurtenances thereto, grounds and facilities held out for the use of tenants generally and any other area or facility of which use is promised to the tenant.

Property Manager. A person whom, for compensation, has control of the day-to-day operations of the residential rental unit or units or the person in a partnership or corporation, or any other legal entity, who has managing control of the residential rental unit(s).

Residential Occupancy Application. An application to be completed by an owner of a residential structure that lists all occupants and owners for each residential rental unit or residential structure, with said application to be submitted to the city prior to utility services being connected by the city.

Residential Rental Unit. Any building, manufactured home, mobile home, industrial home or portion thereof which is rented, leased or let to be occupied for compensation as a residence, excluding apartments.

Residential Structure. A structure, including but not limited to site built homes, manufactured homes, mobile homes and industrial homes, in which a person or persons live; a residence; abode; habitation.

Resident Manager. A property manager or agent of a property manager who resides in the residential rental unit.

Tenant. Any person who rents, leases, or occupies a residential rental unit for living or dwelling purposes with the consent of the owner, landlord, or property manager.

Sec. 3.13.002 Application and Issuance of Certificates of Occupancy and Compliance.

(a) Each owner of a residential structure, other than an apartment complex, within the city shall make application for occupancy for said residential structure and each residential rental unit therein, if applicable, with the Building Official by submitting to the City a Residential Occupancy Application prior to receiving utility services from the City of Liberty at such time that there is a change in occupancy of said structure or any respective unit.

(b) Each new owner of a residential structure, excluding apartment complexes, shall make application for occupancy with the Building Official by submitting to the City a Residential Occupancy Application, within ten (10) business days after the date of acquiring ownership. A new person may not occupy the residential structure prior to receiving a Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance from the City.

(c) Application for occupancy shall be made upon a form provided by the City for such purpose, and shall include at least the following information:

1) Property owner’s name, address, work and home telephone numbers;

2) If the owner does not live within fifty (50) miles of the City of Liberty, then in addition to the information required by (1) above, the same information shall be provided for a local contact that has the authority to represent the owner in all matters relating to the maintenance of the residential structure and all respective units therein, if applicable;

3) If the owner is a partnership, the name of all partners, the principal business address of the person in charge of the property, and telephone number of each partner;

4) If the owner is a corporation, the person registering must state whether it is organized under the laws of this state or is a foreign corporation, and must show the mailing address, business location, telephone number, name of the primary individual in charge of the property of such corporation, if any, and the names of all officers and directors or trustees of such corporation, and, if a foreign corporation, the place of incorporation and the agent for service;

5) Name, address, and telephone number of the property manager, if applicable;

6) Street address of the residential structure;

7) Street and mailing address of the residential rental unit, if applicable;

8) Total square feet of living area and number of bedrooms;

9) Number of persons occupying the structure or unit;

10) Whether there has been a change of occupancy or an additional adult person to take up residence in the structure or unit since the date of last application; and

11) Signature of the owner or owner’s agent.

(d) A separate Residential Occupancy Application is to be completed and submitted for each residential rental unit within a residential structure.

(e) A fee, set by the City Council, shall be charged for each respective application.

(f) The Building Official shall either (1) issue a Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance or (2) notify the owner that the premises do not comply with the requirements of this ordinance.

(g) It is an offense for an owner to fail to register or fail to renew an application of any structure or unit within the City, and each and every day that the owner continues to fail to register or renew the application of each respective structure or unit shall constitute a separate offense.

(h) It shall be unlawful for any person to file a false Residential Occupancy Application with the City.

Sec. 3.13.003 Life, Health and Safety Inspections.

(a) The Building Official, or his/her designee, shall inspect each residential structure and residential unit therein within five (5) business days of receiving the application to determine compliance with minimum housing standards, city ordinances, national and international codes adopted by the City, City Code, all applicable state and local laws, and other conditions as determined by the city. Inspections shall also be conducted if a change of occupancy or a change of ownership has occurred for residential structures and/or residential rental units, or at any other time deemed necessary by the Building Official to maintain compliance with minimum housing standards.

(b) If, upon completion of the inspection, the premises are found to be in compliance with all standards and codes mentioned in Section 3.13.003(a), the City shall issue a Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance to the owner.

(c) Failure to give the City Building Official or his/her designee access to the residential structure or any residential rental unit(s) therein shall constitute a violation and grounds for denying a passing inspection for each said structure or unit, and the fees associated for said inspection and all additional inspections shall be assessed as if the initial inspection was completed and judged as a failure to pass inspection.

Sec. 3.13.004 Offenses and Penalties.

Any person who commits an offense, performs an act prohibited by this ordinance or fails to perform an act required by this ordinance shall be in violation of this ordinance and is subject to a fine of not more than $500.00 for each offense, and each and every day such offense or violation shall continue could be deemed a separate offense and fined accordingly.

Sec. 3.13.005 - 3.13-030 Reserved.

DIVISION II. COMMERCIAL OCCUPANCY REQUIREMENTS

Sec. 3.13.031 Definitions.

As used in this division, the following terms shall have the respective meanings ascribed to them:

Building Official. A properly identified building official for the City of Liberty, Texas, or his/her designee.

Certificate of Compliance. A certificate, other than an initial Certificate of Occupancy, issued by the city upon submission, review and approval of an executed Commercial Occupancy Application, which lists any and all occupants of the property, as well as the owner(s) of the property.

Certificate of Occupancy. An initial certificate issued by the city upon submission, review and approval of an executed Commercial Occupancy Application, which lists any and all occupants of the property, as well as the owner(s) of the property.

City. The City of Liberty, Texas.

Commercial Leased Unit. Any building or portion thereof which is rented, leased or let to be occupied for compensation in order to conduct commercial activities.

Commercial Occupancy Application. An application to be completed by an owner of a commercial structure that lists all occupants and owners for each commercial leased unit or commercial structure, with said application to be submitted to the city prior to utility services being connected by the city.

Commercial Premises. A lot, plot or parcel of land, including any structure thereon, used for commercial purposes.

Commercial Structure. A structure which is primarily used to conduct commercial activities and is not a residential building as defined by this division.

Fire Marshal. A properly identified Fire Marshal for the City of Liberty, Texas, or his/her designee.

Fire Safety Inspection. An inspection completed by the Fire Marshal on commercial structures and commercial leased units which must be completed and submitted to the City upon change in use or ownership of such commercial structures or commercial leased units therein prior to connection of utility services to each respective commercial structure and commercial leased unit.

Life, Health and Safety Inspection. An inspection completed by the building Official on commercial structures and commercial leased units which must be completed and submitted to the city prior to connection of utility services to each respective commercial structure and commercial leased unit.

Non-residential Building. A structure which is not a residential building as defined by this division.

Owner. The person claiming, or in whom is invested, the ownership, dominion, or title of real property, including but not limited to: holder of fee-simple title; holder of life-estate; holder of leasehold estate for an interim term of five (5) years or more; a buyer under contract for deed; a mortgagee, receiver, executor or trustee in control of real property; but not including the holder of a leasehold estate or a tenancy for initial term of less than five (5) years.

Person. An individual, corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership or association, two or more persons having a joint interest, or any other legal or community entity.

Property Manager. A person whom, for compensation, has control of the day-to-day operations of the commercial structure or commercial leased unit or units or the person in a partnership or corporation, or any other legal entity, who has managing control of the commercial structure or commercial leased units.

Residential Building. A structure in which a person or persons live; a residence; abode; habitation.

Tenant. Any person who rents, leases, or occupies a commercial structure or commercial leased unit for commercial purposes with the consent of the owner, landlord, or property manager.

Sec. 3.13.032 Commercial Certificates of Occupancy and Compliance.

(a) A Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance shall be required for any of the following:

1) Occupancy and use of a new commercial premises;

2) Change in use of an existing commercial premises;

3) Occupancy and/or use of a commercial structure hereafter erected or structurally altered;

4) Change in ownership and/or name of an existing business.

(b) No such use or change of use shall take place until a Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance thereof shall have been issued by the Building Official. All required construction inspections must be completed before anything is allowed to be moved into the building.

Sec. 3.13.033 Application and Issuance of Certificates of Occupancy and Compliance.

(a) Each owner of a commercial structure within the city shall make application for occupancy for said commercial structure and each commercial leased unit therein, if applicable, with the Building Official by submitting to the City a Commercial Occupancy Application prior to receiving utility services from the City of Liberty at such time that there is a change in use of said structure or any respective unit.

(b) Each new owner of a commercial structure or commercial leased unit shall make application for occupancy with the Building Official by submitting to the City a Commercial Occupancy Application, within ten (10) business days after the date of acquiring ownership.

(c) Application for occupancy shall be made upon a form provided by the City for such purpose, and shall include at least the following information:

1) Whether the application is for a new use, a new occupant, or a new owner/business name;

2) Address of the property to be inspected;

3) Business/property use;

4) Total square feet of the commercial structure or commercial leased unit to be inspected;

5) Property owner’s name, address, work and home telephone number, email address, and name of contact person;

6) Tenant’s name, address, work and home telephone number, email address, and name of contact person;

7) Description of the business/property use;

8) Whether the occupancy or business involves the storage, sale, or use of certain hazards or products;

9) Chemical data sheet to the Building/Fire Department listing the maximum quantity of all hazardous materials under (8) above;

10) List of all materials discharged into the drainage system, ground, water, or atmosphere;

11) Owner’s printed name and signature certifying that he/she has read the application, that the information is known to be true and correct, and that applicant agrees to comply with all city ordinances, state and local laws.

(d) A separate Commercial Occupancy Application is to be completed and submitted for each commercial leased unit within a commercial structure.

(e) A fee, set by the City Council, shall be charged for each respective application.

(f) The Building Official shall either (1) issue a Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance or (2) notify the owner that the premises do not comply with the requirements of this ordinance.

(g) A Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance for commercial structures or commercial leased units shall be valid until there is a change in ownership or occupancy of said structure or leased units.

(h) It shall be unlawful for any person to file a false Commercial Occupancy Application with the City.

Sec. 3.13.034 Life, Health and Safety Inspections and Fire Safety Inspections.

(a) The Building Official, or his/her designee, shall conduct a Life, Health and Safety Inspection for each commercial structure or commercial leased unit therein within five (5) business days after receiving the application to determine compliance with minimum building standards, city ordinances, national and international codes adopted by the City, City Code, all applicable state and local laws, and other conditions as determined by the city.

(b) Upon the change in use or ownership of a commercial structure or any commercial leased unit therein, the Fire Marshal, or his/her designee, shall conduct a Fire Safety Inspection for each commercial structure or commercial leased unit therein within five (5) business days after receiving the application to determine compliance with minimum fire safety standards, City ordinances, national and international codes adopted by the City, City Code, all applicable state and local laws, and other conditions as determined by the City.

(c) If, upon completion of the inspection, the premises are found to be in compliance with all standards and codes mentioned in Section 3.13.034(a), the City shall issue a Certificate of Occupancy or a Certificate of Compliance to the property owner.

(d) Failure to give the Building Official or his/her designee or the Fire Marshal or his/her designee access to the commercial structure or any commercial leased unit therein shall constitute a violation and grounds for denying a passing inspection and all additional inspections shall be assessed as if the initial inspection was completed and judged as a failure to pass inspection.

Sec. 3.13.035 Offenses and Penalties.

Any person who commits an offense, performs an act prohibited by this ordinance or fails to perform an act required by this ordinance shall be in violation of this ordinance and is subject to a fine of not more than $500.00 for each offense, and each and every day such offense or violation shall continue could be deemed a separate offense and fined accordingly.

Sec. 3.13.036 Procedure for Occupancy of New Commercial Buildings.

A Certificate of Occupancy for a new commercial structure shall be issued when such building has been completed in conformity with the provisions of this Ordinance and all required construction inspections have been passed. A certificate shall be issued within five (5) business days after final inspection is complete and all fees owed to City have been paid.

Sec. 3.13.037 Procedure for Change in Use of an Existing Non-residential Building.

Written application for a Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance for a change in the use of an existing building shall be made to the Building Official. All required inspections for a Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance are separate from any construction inspections and are required to be successfully completed before a certificate will be issued. Parking requirements must be met, as herein provided. If the proposed use is in conformity with the provisions of this Ordinance, the Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance shall be issued within five (5) business days after the application for same has been made provided that all requirements are met.

Sec. 3.13.038 Procedure for Occupancy and/or Use of a Non-residential Building Hereafter Erected or Structurally Altered.

Written application for a Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance and/or use of a non-residential building hereafter erected or structurally altered shall be made to the Building Official. All required inspections for a Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance are separate from any construction inspections and are required to pass before certificate will be issued. Parking requirements must be met, as herein provided. If the proposed use is in conformity with the provisions of this Ordinance, the Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance shall be issued within five (5) business days after the application for same has been made provided that all requirements are met.

Sec. 3.13.039 Procedure for Change in Ownership and/or Name of an Existing Building.

Written application for a Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance for any change in ownership and/or name of an existing building shall be made to the Building Official. All required inspections for a Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance are separate from any construction inspections, and a passing score is required before a certificate will be issued. Parking requirements must be met, as herein provided. If the proposed use is in conformity with the provisions of this Ordinance, the Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance shall be issued within five (5) business days after the application for same has been made.

Sec. 3.13.040 Contents.

(a) Every Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance shall state that the building, or the proposed use of a building, complies with all provisions of the building and fire codes and Ordinances.

(b) A record of all Certificates of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance shall be kept in file in the office of the Building Official, or his/her designee, and copies shall be furnished upon request to any person having proprietary or tenancy interest in the building affected.

Sec. 3.13.041 Temporary Certificate.

Pending the issuance of a regular Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance, the Building Official may issue a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy or Temporary Certificate of Compliance for a period of time not exceeding 120 days, during the completion or alterations or during partial occupancy of a building pending its completion. A temporary certificate will be issued only for incomplete concrete parking as otherwise provided by the building code. It is required that the cost of the total project completion be submitted to the City in the form of a written contract or quote good for 120 days, from the contractor prepared to complete work. This total amount will be escrowed to the City for completion of the project. All required inspections for a Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance are separate from any construction inspections and are required to pass before a temporary certificate will be issued. Such temporary certificates shall not be construed as in any way altering the respective rights, duties or obligations of the owners or of the City relating to the use or occupancy of the premises or any other matter covered by this Ordinance.

 

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